Kids waiting longer for Crumlin heart care

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

Waiting lists for tests and treatment for children with heart disease at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin have increased over the past year, according to new statistics.

The latest figures show that the average waiting time for a child to get an angiogram heart investigation at Crumlin doubled over the past year, from three months to six months.

The figures, from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) treatment register, which compiles public waiting lists on behalf of the State, also shows there has been a 37% increase in the number of children awaiting open heart surgery at Crumlin.

In April 2009, eight child patients were waiting between six and 12 months for open heart surgery at the Dublin hospital, but this had increased to 12 in April of this year.

The number of paediatric patients waiting between three and six months for this surgery increased over the past year from 11 to 14, according to the figures. No patients were awaiting over 12 months for this surgery. The figures do not include the numbers waiting up to three months.

The number of children awaiting medical, as opposed to surgical treatment between six and 12 months for heart problems at Crumlin increased from 46 to 53 between April 2009 and April 2010. Thirty-four child patients were awaiting this treatment for over 12 months in April of this year.

Overall, the number of children awaiting all types of surgery at Crumlin for over three months dropped by around 8% to 781 over the past year, according to the figures.

However, the statistics show that while the numbers waiting over 12 months for all procedures at Crumlin have dropped from 146 to 72, the numbers waiting from six to 12 months for operations increased from 356 to 392.

There was a doubling of the numbers awaiting general surgery between six and 12 months, from 52 to 104. There were decreases, however, in the numbers waiting six months-plus for orthopaedic and ear, nose and throat operations.

Earlier this year, the NTPF and Crumlin clashed after the treatment fund, which arranges private treatment for long-waiting public patients, claimed that the hospital was not fully engaging with it in the process of clearing waiting lists.

The NTPF said it could provide private treatment for many of the child patients on public waiting lists at Crumlin and other hospitals if the hospitals fully cooperated with it.

However, Crumlin denied the claims and said some treatments for children, such as heart surgery, needed to be delivered at Crumlin and could not, unlike other treatments, be provided privately at other hospitals.

Crumlin Hospital has said a critical limiting factor with its heart surgery waiting list is its current shortage of ICU facilities. The hospital has also suffered bed and theatre cutbacks over the past year.

The HSE late last year expressed concern about the number of children on the waiting list for heart surgery at Crumlin, including the numbers requiring urgent surgery.



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